A Tottering Tragedy

In Albertson’s, the express line was backed up by a tottering man who reeked of alcohol and urine. As the second person in line, I received the apologetic and worried glances from the cashier—a girl about my age. Poor dear. She told the man several times, “swipe your card again,” and he would hunch, pull his shirt up, pull it down, and try again. He fumbled with the card, with the machine, and with the little numbers you punch your pin into.

After a while, the girl called a manager, who came over and observed the situation. As the man attempted to slide his card yet again, he was told, “sir, we don’t sell alcohol to people already under the influence.” And with that he tottered out. The girl was very relieved. The manager gently scolded her, telling her that she should always call if someone like that came in. With a smile and a shaky laugh, she looked at me and said, “poor guy.” As I walked out, I heard her tell the young man bagging the groceries, “I didn’t want to call, because I didn’t know if he had some shaking problem.”

With people watching, you find quirks, attitudes and tragedies. The man was repulsive, but the girl felt sorry for him. She gave him the benefit of the doubt, even though he was obviously drunk. I wonder how the man became like that. He looked like he was forty. After many years of attempting to make something of his life, he was left attempting to buy more liquid death at the grocery store.

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